DNP Projects

What is it and how do I get it done?

Student presenting research poster.

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Defining Nursing Scholarship and Practice Scholarship

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN, 2018), nursing scholarship is defined as the generation, synthesis, translation, application and dissemination of knowledge that aims to improve health and transform care. Nursing scholarship entails the communication of knowledge that is generated through multiple forms of inquiry that inform clinical practice, nursing education, policy and healthcare delivery (AACN, 2018). As a practice discipline, nursing scholarship informs science, enhances clinical practice, influences policy and impacts best practices (AACN, 2018). According to the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) (2019), “scholarly work represents an evidence-based inquiry using scholarship skills resulting in an academically sound product to improve clinical practice” (p. 9).

What is a DNP Project?

The DNP project provides opportunity for students to integrate newly learned skills into practice and to demonstrate how to apply principles of nursing practice scholarship guided by competencies outlined in the AACN’s eight DNP Essentials (AACN, 2019b).

A DNP Project may focus on an intervention, a program, a policy, a quality improvement project, a nursing informatics project, or a creative entity that promotes improvement or change related to the health of individuals and populations or healthcare and systems.

The DNP Essentials and DNP Project Focus

The DNP Essentials define the curricular elements that must be present in DNP programs. Required by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for schools seeking accreditation for DNP programs, the DNP Essentials outline the foundational competencies that are core to all Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) roles including nurse practitioners (NPs), clinical nurse specialists (CNS), nurse anesthetists (CRNA) and nurse midwives (AACN, 2019a).

The DNP Essentials (AACN, 2019a)

  • Essential I: Scientific Underpinnings for Practice
    To address current and future practice issues within their specialty, DNP graduates are prepared with a strong scientific foundation
  • Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking
    DNP graduates are prepared to be leaders with sophisticated expertise in assessing organizations, identifying system’s issues, and facilitating organization wide changes in practice delivery.
  • Essential III: Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
    DNP graduates in engage in advancing nursing practice through participating in collaborative research and translating research into practice to improve health care practices and outcomes.   
  • Essential IV: Information Systems/ Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Health Care
    To support quality improvement, practice and administrative decision-making initiatives, DNP graduates are proficient in the use of information systems/technology resources.
  • Essential V: Health Care Policy for Advocacy in Health Care
    DNP graduates are prepared with leadership skills that allow them to proactively develop and implement health policy at all levels and to be a critical interface between practice, research and policy in their specialty area of practice.
  • Essential VI: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes
    DNP graduates are prepared in methods of effective team leadership that allow them to play central roles in establishing, participating in, and assuming leadership roles when working with interprofessional teams.
  • Essential VII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving the Nation’s Health
    DNP graduates are prepared as leaders who promote and use best evidence to improve individual, community, population, and national health in their specialty are of practice.
  • Essential VIII: Advanced Nursing Practice
    DNP graduates receive diverse clinical practicum experiences and are taught foundational competencies that prepare them to care for patients within their scope of practice.

Project Question

A good DNP Project question answers the following:

  • WHO (population involved in the research)
  • WHAT (exactly what is being done)
  • WHERE (the actual physical place)
  • WHY (reason for doing the project)

Where to Get Ideas for a DNP Project

Project ideas are generated by asking yourself the following:

  • What am I passionate about? Patient care, administrative process, improvement of service quality? Diabetes Management? Healthcare Costs?
  • Is/was there a better way to do things at my current/former place of employment? What about my clinical training sites? Did I have a personal experience with a health care policy or procedure that really made me think about it?
  • Is there a way to improve quality or outcomes? Would a protocol help?
  • Is there a tool I could develop to improve patient care or assist healthcare providers with a clinical issue?
  • If a previous student’s DNP project caught my interest, could I expand on that project’s findings for my own DNP project?  

Previously Completed Projects

Ideas for DNP projects can be found by searching through University Institutional Repositories that house previously completed projects.

DNP project ideas can also be generated by attending an actual DNP oral or poster dissemination at UB. Oral dissemination announcements are posted through the DNP listserv and poster disseminations are held in April at UB School of Nursing's Research Day.

How the Coursework Will Help You Succeed

All courses in the DNP program curriculum are designed to prepare you to complete the DNP Project requirement. See below for how our curriculum relates to each section of the DNP Project.

DNP Coursework

DNP Project Sections and Related Courses
DNP Project Section Related Course in DNP Curriculum
Background and Significance NGC518 Health Promotion
NGC520 Scientific Writing
Project Question, Purpose and Objective(s) NGC526 Evidence I
NGC527 Evidence II
NGC701 State of Science
Theoretical Framework NGC501 Conceptual Foundations
NGC632 Health Care Policy
NGC634 Leadership Concepts
Literature Review NGC701 State of Science
Methods and Design NGC502 Informatics
NGC638 Program Evaluation
Human Protection and Ethical Considerations NGC527 Evidence II
NGC798 DNP Project I
Results NGC526 Evidence I
NGC527 Evidence II
NGC799 DNP Project I

I Have an Idea! Now What?

After establishing a DNP project idea/area of interest, the next step is to research your idea by performing a literature search to determine what type of research has or has not already been done on your topic of interest. Look at your idea through different views such as the view of the project site stakeholder(s), patient(s), and/or provider(s). Each view will have a different perspective on your idea. Look at theoretical frameworks that match the view on which you want to focus.

The final step is to find a project site stakeholder interested in your idea. Remember, faculty are always here to help you (by appointment) through coursework designed to assist you through the planning, implementation and dissemination of your DNP project.

After establishing a DNP project idea/area of interest, your program advisor can guide you through the next steps. 

DNP Project Examples

· Quality Improvement
· Translating Evidence into Practice
· Clinical or Practice-Based Information
· Health Care Delivery Innovation
· Program Development and Evaluation
· Demonstration Project
· Health Care Policy
· Generating New Evidence or Knowledge

Project Dissemination

Dissemination examples for DNP projects include the following (AACN, 2019b; COA, 2019):

  • Publishing in a peer reviewed print or on-line journal (students work closely with their DNP Project Advisor from the beginning of the project and plan writing the final project paper according to target journal guidelines)
  • Poster and podium presentations
  • Presentation of a written or verbal executive summary to stakeholders and/or the practice site/organization leadership
  • Development of a webinar presentation or video (i.e., YouTube or other public site)
  • Submission and publication to a non-refereed lay publication
  • Oral presentation to the public at large
  • Development and presentation of a digital poster, grand rounds presentation, and/or PowerPoint presentation
Project Resources

An excellent DNP project resource is the Health Sciences Library’s (HSL) Research Help website. Here you will find Research Guides, Tips, Workshops, Educational Services and Scholarly Publishing.

References

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2019a). DNP essentials. https://www.aacnnursing.org/DNP/DNP-Essentials

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2019b). The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) toolkit. https://www.aacnnursing.org/DNP/Tool-Kit

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2018). Defining Scholarship for Academic Nursing. https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/News/Position-Statements/Defining-Scholarship.pdf

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Task Force on the Implementation of the DNP. (2015). The Doctor of Nursing Practice: Current issues and clarifying recommendations. https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/DNP/DNP-Implementation.pdf

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. (2019). Scholarly Work for Practice Doctorate Nurse Anesthesia Programs: Current State and Guidance. https://www.coacrna.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/White-Paper-on-Scholarly-Work-Final.pdf.

Moran, K., Burson, R. & Conrad, D. (2020). The Doctor of Nursing Practice Project: A Framework for Success (3rd Ed.). MA:Jones & Bartlett.

References

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2019a). DNP essentials. https://www.aacnnursing.org/DNP/DNP-Essentials

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2019b). The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) toolkit. https://www.aacnnursing.org/DNP/Tool-Kit

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2018). Defining Scholarship for Academic Nursing. https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/News/Position-Statements/Defining-Scholarship.pdf

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Task Force on the Implementation of the DNP. (2015). The Doctor of Nursing Practice: Current issues and clarifying recommendations. https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/DNP/DNP-Implementation.pdf

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. (2019). Scholarly Work for Practice Doctorate Nurse Anesthesia Programs: Current State and Guidance. https://www.coacrna.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/White-Paper-on-Scholarly-Work-Final.pdf.

Moran, K., Burson, R. & Conrad, D. (2020). The Doctor of Nursing Practice Project: A Framework for Success (3rd Ed.). MA: Jones & Bartlett.